Vaccinations

Who should have the chickenpox vaccine?

Chickenpox vaccination isn't routinely available on the NHS, but it is recommended for adults and children in regular or close contact with someone who:

  • has a weakened immune system
  • is at risk of serious illness if they catch chickenpox

Vaccination protects the person at risk of catching chickenpox through close contact.

The types of people who can have a chickenpox vaccination on the NHS include:

  • non-immune healthcare workers
  • close relatives and carers (who have not previously had chickenpox) of people who are unwell

Healthcare workers and chickenpox

The chickenpox vaccination is recommended for healthcare workers who haven't had chickenpox before.

Healthcare workers include anyone who is likely to come into contact with a patient, including medical and nursing staff, and other workers, such as:

  • hospital cleaners 
  • hospital catering staff 
  • ambulance staff 
  • hospital or GP receptionists

Close contacts of vulnerable people

The chickenpox vaccination is also recommended for anyone (adult or child) who has hasn't had chickenpox before and is in close contact with a person who has a weakened immune system.

People with a weakened immune system include those:

  • taking long-term steroid tablets
  • having chemotherapy
  • who have had their spleen removed
  • who have had an organ transplant and are using immunosuppressant medicines
  • diagnosed with HIV or AIDS

As an example, chickenpox vaccination would be recommended for:

  • brothers and sisters of a child who has leukaemia
  • a child whose parent is having chemotherapy

If you think that you or a member of your family or household needs the chickenpox vaccine, contact your GP for advice.

How to check if you've had chickenpox before

Chickenpox is so common in childhood that 90% of adults in the UK are immune.

If you're not sure whether you've had chickenpox in the past, contact your GP or occupational health department. It may be in your medical notes, or you can have a blood test to check if you have antibodies to the disease, which proves you've had chickenpox before.

Who should not have the chickenpox jab?

People who should not have the chickenpox vaccine include:

  • anyone with a weakened immune system
  • anyone who has had a serious allergic reaction (anaphylactic reaction) to a previous dose of the vaccine or to any of the ingredients in the vaccine – ask your GP if you're unsure whether this applies to you
  • pregnant women – if you have the chickenpox vaccine, try to avoid becoming pregnant within one month of the last dose
  • anyone who is seriously unwell – they should delay having the vaccination until they recover

Find answers to common questions about the chickenpox vaccine.

Page last reviewed: 31/03/2016

Next review due: 31/03/2018

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